In my Sophomore year of high school I had the opportunity to travel to Peru for a service trip with about 25 other students from my school. During the two week trip, we completed a service project at a school in Las Palmas; a rural town outside of Peru’s capital, Lima.
We worked to help build two classrooms for the primary and middle school students who attended the school, and also had the chance to interact with the students during their breaks, playing football with them at lunch, or dancing with the young girls after school. We were also fortunate enough to be able to visit the historical city of Cusco, as well as Machu Picchu, one of the 7 world wonders. In addition to the service project we completed, we were also able to learn about many aspects of the rich Incan culture, including their art, history, and music.
While this trip was many years ago, I remember it very fondly as the first time I was able to experience and appreciate a culture very different from my own and to help people who, at the time, I felt were very different from the person I am, but soon realized were no different at all. We may not have spoken the same language, but we had similar hopes and dreams for our lives, and so being able to engage in that type of cultural and educational exchange was truly eye-opening